Belgium’s far-right prodigy gets prison term for inciting violence

A key figure in the Belgian far right was sentenced to a year in prison and was issued a heavy fine.

A court in Belgium sentenced prominent far-right political activist Dries Van Langenhove to a year in prison for running an organisation that a judge said spread “racist, hateful, Nazi and negationist speech.” The leader of a Flemish-nationalist youth movement called Schild & Vrienden was convicted of inciting violence and denying the Holocaust, the Ghent criminal court ruled.

Van Langenhove, along with six other members of the Schild & Vrienden far-right youth movement, were tried in court on various charges, including hatred, racism, Holocaust denial and breaching a local gun law, reports Politico. Five of the other members who stood trial received suspended prison sentences.

The 30-year-old Van Langenhove “revelled in Nazi ideas that cause much suffering. He wants to undermine society,” a judge said when announcing the ruling.

The leader of Schild & Vrienden rose to fame as a political prodigy in the late 2010s, organising far right-minded youngsters in online chat groups to exchange racist and antisemitic messages in group chats. The movement triggered a judicial investigation.

Van Langenhove sat in the country’s federal parliament from 2019-2023 as an independent member of the political group of Vlaams Belang, a far-right party that wields an anti-immigrant rhetoric. However, Van Langenhove left his seat in parliament in 2023 to focus on political activism.

In addition to the one-year prison sentence, Van Langenhove was deprived of certain civil rights for ten years, during which he wouldn’t be able to serve in public office or run in elections. He will also have to pay a €16,000 fine and received a separate, 10-month suspended prison sentence.

According to Van Langenhove’s lawyer, he will appeal the ruling.


Credit: Belga